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UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

CHAPTER LI-SUCCESSORS OF ALEXANDER.

The death of Alexander the Great left the world without a master. Nor

had the work of organizing and consolidating the great empires, subdued

by his arms, proceeded sufficiently far to give promise of successful

completion. He left no successor who could rightfully claim the scepter.

The children born of his Asiatic wives were not regarded as legitimate

claimants of the throne. His oldest son, born of Barcina, the widow of

Memnon, was but five years of age. It was not to be supposed that the

burdens and responsibilities of a great military empire would be

devolved upon such a child, even under a regency Roxana, his Bactrian

queen, had not yet become a mother. Of all who might with some show of

reason lay claim to the succession, Arrhidaeus, the half-brother of

Alexander, son of Philip and Philine, held the first place, and to him

the Greek and Macedonian leaders first looked as to a possible

successor. But Arrhidaeus had neither intellect nor ambition. His

education had not been directed to the conduct of affairs, and his

native force was so feeble as to make him even an inefficient tool in

the hands of ethers. It was evident, therefore, that the strong hand of

military power must be stretched out over the chaos occasioned by the

death of Alexander.

As soon as the son of Philip was no more, eight of the leading generals

of the army, together with Perdiccas, to whom Alexander had given his

ring and signet, assembled in Babylon to consider the condition of the

Empire and to devise means for its government. These eight commanders

were Leonatus, Lysimachus, Aristonous, Python, Seleucus, Eumenes,

Meleager, and Nearchus. Meanwhile the phalanx, being Macedonian and more

concerned in the affairs of the home kingdom than in the management of

the vast realms which they had helped to conquer, had, out of deference

to the House of Philip, named Arrhidaeus as successor to Alexander. This

action soon led to a rupture between the infantry and cavalry wings of

the army. The latter desired some able military chieftain, who could

lead them against an enemy and sustain their fame as soldiers. The

former, headed by the phalanx, preferred a legitimate sovereign, under

whom Macedonia should still be and remain the central fact in the

Empire. The eight leaders just referred to took sides with the cavalry,

and Perdiccas was forced, partly by expediency and partly by an attempt

made upon his life, to join his fortunes with the other generals. The

cavalry, under such leadership, assembled without the city, and

threatened to cut off supplies and starve into compliance all who

opposed their views.

The great council assembled in the palace of Babylon. After a variety of

projects had been discussed, it was proposed by Aristonous that the

general affairs of the Empire should be entrusted to Perdiccas, with the

title of Regent. The measure was carried; and he on whom the dangerous

honor was imposed was thus set in direct antagonism with Arrhidaeus, who

had received the suffrages of the infantry. Meleager, the general of

that wing of the army, found himself in a serious predicament: he must

break either with his soldiers or with the Regent. He sided with the

soldiers, and became their leader. This party undertook to uphold

Arrhidaeus, and thus a conflict was brought on which came near ending in

bloody work. The forces were already drawn out for battle, the phalanx

on one side and the cavalry on the other, when the catastrophe was

avoided by the mingled fear and magnanimity of Arrhidaeus himself. When

battle was about to begin he threw himself among his soldiers, and

besought them to refrain from such an act as would prove an everlasting

stain upon their reputation. He publicly renounced all claim to the

crown. "If this diadem," said he, "can be possessed